Monday 22 January 2018

Glenstal has record number of new pupils

Glenstal Abbey
Glenstal Abbey

Barry Duggan

Pupil numbers at fee-paying Glenstal Abbey soared to 218 this month - the highest in its 80-year history.

A record 56 new students were enrolled from first to fifth year - 11 are day boarders from the Limerick, Tipperary and Clare areas.

Glenstal in Murroe, Co Limerick, is bucking the trend - pupil numbers in most fee-paying schools are continuing to slide.

Around 10pc of the students in the school are from overseas - hailing from places as diverse as the UK, Continental Europe, USA, Mexico, UAE and Singapore. Fees this year stand at €17,375 for seven-day boarders and €10,250 for day boarders - both include a €1,000 capital development levy. The school's €6m extension was officially opened last January. It was the first day of school in Glenstal this week for the 56 boys, as well as for the new headmaster, Fr William Fennelly.

Fr Fennelly, from Dublin's South Circular Road, takes over from Br Martin Browne. The headmaster said that just two years ago numbers were at 181.

"It went up a good bit last year and up further this year. Part of that is coming out of the recession and then there is the fine building Br Martin did.

"He has done a huge amount of work on academic standards. It is kind of a virtual circle - each bit reinforces the other."

Fr Fennelly attended Glenstal Abbey School in the 1980s.

"Probably the biggest change is mobile phones. The students are on the phone all the time to home or social networking.

"When I was here you used to get one visit per half-term, but now parents are much more involved," he said.

While the multi-million euro extension was built under his watch, Br Martin said he set more store by the school ethos.

"The school isn't a monastery, but is a particular kind of community and has some of the same values of the monastery."

Irish Independent

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